If any of you out there have dogs, you know just what having a dog does to you. It changes you in all sorts of ways that you probably never thought were possible. I know it might sound silly to those of you who have actual human children but hear me out.
Growing up, I never had a dog. I never had any pets as a matter of fact. So trust me when I say that I’ve been in your shoes. I was the person that, whenever I would hear someone say something super sentimental or sappy about their dog, I’d roll my eyes and say, “it’s just a dog”.
Now that I have a dog of my own, I take it all back. Because here’s the truth of the matter. It’s not “just a dog”. Chandler, to me and Ryan, is so much more than “just a dog”. I never thought that having “just a dog” would make such an impact on my life. I never knew how much I would learn about myself by having this sweet, loving creature that depends on me to take care of him and love him back.
I’ve learned how to be more patient.
- I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a particularly patient person. I get frustrated easily when I’m trying to do something that I’ve never done before because I want to just know how to do the thing. However, I’ve gotten a serious lesson in patience through Chandler. When we were potty training him, I needed to learn to have patience with his little thing that had never learned to do this before. He doesn’t understand my language and he doesn’t understand why I’m angry at him for the puddle on the floor. When he just stood at the door, looking outside, I wanted him to give me some sign that he needed to go out. We tried a bell, we tried everything. Nothing worked and I was easily frustrated when I continued finding accidents around the house. He knew he needed to do his business outside but he didn’t know how to tell us. Eventually, we learned each other’s signals and it all worked out but it was not easy. Nowadays, I find myself asking for patience when he whines next to the bed at 4:30AM to go outside. I find myself asking for patience when he walks around and whines for no reason and doesn’t want to go outside. I find myself asking for patience when he whines at the door to go out but then turns his little butt right around and whines to come back in.
I’ve learned to find joy in another’s successes
- As the youngest child, I never really needed to compete with my older siblings. I was pretty much always the star of the show in everything I did and I didn’t have competition from cuter, younger siblings that were doing something better than me. So when it came time for me to learn that others close to me were in fact better than me at certain things, or had done things before I had done them or achieved something I knew I couldn’t, I found it difficult to be happy for their successes. However, with Chandler, I’ve found countless ways to find joy in every new thing he does. When he learned to jump in the car, when he finally gets whatever new command we’ve been teaching him, when he swam for the first time. Every new thing was a new opportunity for me to find joy in his success. I’ve found that joy bubbling over to other people. I’ve found it much easier to be so happy for other’s when they achieve something, or do something better or even before me. Gone are the days of selfishly wishing I had done something first or better than someone else.
I’ve learned to laugh at mistakes
- Dogs want to be perfect. They want to please their humans so bad but you all know that dogs never get things perfect. Dogs never do things right the first time but they brush off their mistakes and they keep trying. Chandler could make a mistake and he still looks at you with the same happy, goofy face he does when he’s done something right. He could make a mistake and I’d still give him all the love and belly rubs. And then he’ll try again. I’m learning that it’s perfectly okay to mess up. It’s ok to do things wrong over and over again as long as you keep trying. Laugh at your mistakes and still reward yourself even if you did it wrong.
I’ve learned the value of unconditional love
- You know that kind of love that you only experience from a dog? That unconditional love? A kind of love that is still given in abundance even if you’ve just yelled at them harshly or smacked them for doing something naughty. It’s just a love that give and gives and doesn’t ask for much in return. I never valued something as much as I value this unconditional love that I get from Chandler every single day.
If you don’t have a dog, it may be hard to understand. And I get that, I do. Because like I said, I was you. I was there in the trenches of this misunderstanding. But I’m telling you, I have learned more about myself from my dog than I have from most people I’ve known for years.
And honestly, I think I’m much better off for having gotten a dog.
Until next time, friends.